Theaster Gates,  Low Backs (Brown and Black),  wood and metal, 2010

The beginning of March is a smorgasbord for art lovers. Packed with options, this is one smorgas that may be too rich for some tastes-how to choose among the many art fairs and events that pack the weekend of March 8-11? This guide will give you a compass to power through with tidbits about each fair so you can choose which is right for your taste.

Before we get started an important note: I recommend purchasing advance tickets whenever possible. Many art fairs allow for advance purchasing through their respective websites (which are all listed below) and some also offer promotional pricing to those who purchase beforehand. Already having your tickets in hand is a great way to avoid lines the day you attend, which will only make your life easier.

The Art Show

We’ll start at The Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory, which is considered  to be the longest continuously running art fair.    The Art Show is organized by The Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA). Featuring museum quality exhibitions by leading art dealers and galleries, The Art Show specializes in art from the 19th and 20th centuries with some 21st century works mixed in. This year marks the first time in almost a quarter century that The Art Show is expanding its roster of exhibitors, welcoming five new galleries.

Details:  The Park Avenue Armory, noon-6p every day. $20 admission benefits the Henry Street Settlement


For something contemporary-minded, try  SCOPE NY. SCOPE is opening its  11th  year in New York City, but this is the first year it will be located near the Armory Show in a pavilion at 57th   Street and 12th   Avenue. The proximity to the largesse that is the Armory Show (see below for full details) may change the face of this exhibition, but this is yet to be seen.  SCOPE is known for exhibiting emerging contemporary art from all creative disciplines including art, design, fashion and music. Contributions featured at this fair come from innovative galleries, artists and curators. New York is SCOPE’s flagship fair, however, it represents only one of this show’s iterations-SCOPE also takes place in Miami, Basel, London and the Hamptons.

Details: 57th Street and 12th Avenue,11a-8p everyday except Sunday, which closes at 7p. $20

The Armory Show

If you are interested in seeing a variety of modern and contemporary art-and lots of both- the Armory Show is gigantic and not for the faint of heart. Spread over two piers,  the Armory Show, now in its 11th year, is considered to be the leading show of modern and contemporary art. It’s breadth, depth and influence are why this weekend of art fairs is commonly referred to as Armory Arts Weekend. The Armory show is divided between Pier 92, which features modern works, and Pier 94 which showcases contemporary art. This separation of the modern and contemporary work is a recent addition and improves the conversation between these two moments in time. Pier 92 is dedicated to international dealers specializing in historically significant modern masterpieces and is intended to illustrate how these works engendered the new developments on view at Pier 94. A $30 general admission ticket offers entry to both piers, and for an additional $10, visitors can purchase a ticket that is also good for the Armory’s sister show, Volta.

Details:  Piers 92 and 94 (55th Street at 12th Avenue) $30, noon to 8p, except Sunday which closes at 7p. $15 for students and seniors. $ 40 for joint ticket with Volta.


Volta’s art fair offering is slightly different than the others, as it is an invitational show of solo projects. This creates a more focused scope for visitors, which the organizers liken to a “series of intense studio visits.” A spin off of the Basel version from 2005. Tickets are $15, but a $40 ticket offers access to this show and the Armory show. A complimentary shuttle bus runs between the two venues. If you are doing both perhaps this is the place to start since it is closer to public transportation than the piers on the Westside.

Details:  7W 34th   Street, 11a-7p everyday. $15 general admission or  $ 40 for joint ticket with The Armory Show

Fountain Art Fair

Largest exhibition space ever for this fair, which will feature over sixty galleries and a large public art installation. Considered the most avant-garde, independent fair, Fountain has always featured a significant public or street art component. Duchamp’s Fountain is the symbol of the fair and it seems fitting that the show is exhibiting at the site of the original 1913 Armory show where Duchamp’s piece was unveiled for the first time.

Details:  69th   Regiment Armory, 68 Lexington Avenue @ 25th   Street, 1-7pm daily.  $10


Sponsored by Frere Independent, PooL is inspired by the 1863 Salon des Refuses, and is dedicated to showcasing unrepresented artists. The first edition of this fair took place in the year 2000 under the name New York Independent Art Fair. This is the first year that PooL has accepted applications from contemporary art dealers, emerging galleries, curators and non-profits so it may be different in tone than in years past.  However, the fair requires that all applicants still remain true to the spirit of exchange and collaboration that PooL was founded on.

Details:  The Flatiron Hotel, 9 W 26th  Street, 3-10p daily.  $10 suggested donation.

Moving Image Contemporary Video Art Fair

While other art fairs feature some video and media work, Moving Image is all about this artistic medium. A selection of commercial galleries and non-profits have been invited to exhibit single channel videos, single channel projections, video sculptures and other large video installations. This fair aims to give video art its due, allowing it to be seen as it was meant to be.

Details:  Waterfront New York Tunnel, 269 11th   Avenue @ 27th Street, 11a-8p. 11a-4p on Sunday. Free

Other fairs that are free of charge are Independent and Dependent. Free doesn’t necessarily mean inferior art-in fact it can mean exactly the opposite. These two fairs are definitely worth a look. Keep in mind that unlike the other shows, Dependent is only open on Saturday from  12-8p.

The RedDot and PULSE  art fairs have been held over this weekend in the past, but enthusiasts will have to wait until May this year. Both shows will take place May 3-6, 2012. PULSE will return to its home at the Metropolitan Pavilion 125 W. 18th  Street. Advance tickets are already available. Despite the change in date of the fair, PULSE maintains a presence during Armory Arts weekend with a Chelsea gallery walk on March 8 from 6-8p. This event is free, and further details can be found on PULSE’s website.

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